Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day in the Life

At the park 4/27/11

I'm in Austin, Texas visiting my grandchildren.  There is really no place I would rather be than hanging out with Megan (5) and Hunter (3).  Their parents head off to work in the mornings and I have the kids all to  myself until the work day is over.  This year Megan started kindergarten and her parents insist that she attend, even on days that Nana is in town. Hunter and I hang out at home, reading books, coloring, and watching Dora the Explorer until it is time to walk to school to pick up Megan.

I am starting to adjust to the Texas climate.  When I left Oregon we were looking forward to temperatures above 60.  In Texas we're in the high 80's with humidity.  My hair was actually weeping by the time I pushed the stroller all the way to the elementary school.  Today I remembered to carry a water bottle with me.

Every day we pick up Megan from the blue painted rectangle in the front of the school that corrals the kindergarten students until their parent or designated adult shows up to claim them.  We stop at the park halfway between school and home and Megan and Hunter swing and climb on the play structures and demand that I "Look at me, Nana" or "Push me, Nana."  We always pack a snack.  One of the best parts of going to the park is a bag of crackers and a juice box!

Today we spent about a half an hour at the park before I suggested that it was time to head home.  Hunter climbed into the stroller and Megan skipped along behind us stepping on our shadows and announcing it to Hunter every time she stepped on her head. 

A few blocks from the park I turned to Megan and said "Watch out for the dog poop."  She skipped by the small fresh pile on the sidewalk and we continued up the street to the corner where Hunter declared,  "I want to see the dog poop!"

I pushed the stroller across the street while telling Hunter, "It's back there on the sidewalk.  I didn't want Megan to step in it."  Hunter turned her head and leans over the side of the stroller trying to catch a glimpse of the dog poop.

"I can't see it," she exclaims loudly "I want to see the dog poop.  Go back!  I want to see the dog poop!"

I am an adoring grandmother.  I am usually a pushover for anything these kids ask for, but dog poop?  I was not going back to view dog poop!

So for the next two blocks my darling 3 year old granddaughter is screaming "I want to see the dog poop.  I want to see the dog poop."  She kept up the litany until Nana found another, somewhat dried out, pile of poop.  In my best indulgent Nana voice I told her "Look Hunter, there's another pile of dog poop."  She looked and she was happy.

Just another day in the life of #1 is good.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

End of the Journey

My father-in-law had a heart attack this morning. He was taken to the emergency room and now has been moved to hospice. He is in his 90's and has advanced Alzheimer's. He is conscious, but not really aware. Last night he held his wife's hand and she believed he knew she was there. Today his eyes are open but when asked who she was, he mumbled incoherently. He is on morphine for pain, but they are not performing any other procedures to prolong his life. My mother-in-law was told he would probably die within the week.

The spouse is heading to Portland tomorrow morning with his brother to be with his mother. This is a time of conflicting emotions for the spouse. When we last visited his father together a few months ago, he recognized the spouse. When the spouse visited by himself a few weeks later, his father did not know him. The spouse says he's known his father was gone and that he has had months to get used to the idea that his father would die. But now he is in the final stage of dying and the reality is still difficult to accept, even though the essence of his father has been gone for some time. While he waits for his father to die, he is not mourning the man who clings to life, but the man his father once was. Knowing that his death is a blessing that will release his father from the ravages of Alzheimer’s does not make letting go any easier.

As people around us will celebrate Easter, we will mourn the loss of my father-in-law. Life and death, it’s the natural course of events. Tomorrow the sun will rise and set and life will go on.  I remind myself that without experiencing loss, it is difficult to appreciate the gift of life. Today I appreciate the life of my father-in-law.

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